A combination cocktail improves spatial attention in a canine model of human aging and Alzheimer's disease

Elizabeth Head, Heather L. Murphey, Amy L.S. Dowling, Katie L. McCarty, Samuel R. Bethel, Jonathan A. Nitz, Melanie Pleiss, Jenna Vanrooyen, Mike Grossheim, Jeffery R. Smiley, M. Paul Murphy, Tina L. Beckett, Dieter Pagani, Frederick Bresch, Curt Hendrix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Alzheimer's disease (AD) involves multiple pathological processes in the brain, including increased inflammation and oxidative damage, as well as the accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques. We hypothesized that a combinatorial therapeutic approach to target these multiple pathways may provide cognitive and neuropathological benefits for AD patients. To test this hypothesis, we used a canine model of human aging and AD. Aged dogs naturally develop learning and memory impairments, human-type Aβ deposits, and oxidative damage in the brain. Thus, 9 aged beagles (98-115 months) were treated with a medical food cocktail containing (1) an extract of turmeric containing 95% curcuminoids; (2) an extract of green tea containing 50% epigallocatechingallate; (3) N-acetyl cysteine; (4) R-alpha lipoic acid; and (5) an extract of black pepper containing 95% piperine. Nine similarly aged dogs served as placebo-treated controls. After 3 months of treatment, 13 dogs completed a variable distance landmark task used as a measure of spatial attention. As compared to placebo-treated animals, dogs receiving the medical food cocktail had significantly lower error scores (t(11) = 4.3, p = 0.001) and were more accurate across all distances (F(1,9) = 20.7, p = 0.001), suggesting an overall improvement in spatial attention. Measures of visual discrimination learning, executive function and spatial memory, and levels of brain and cerebrospinal fluid Aβ were unaffected by the cocktail. Our results indicate that this medical food cocktail may be beneficial for improving spatial attention and motivation deficits associated with impaired cognition in aging and AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1029-1042
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2012


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • amyloid-β
  • cognition
  • dog
  • inflammation
  • oxidative damage
  • spatial attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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